Looking for a knee brace for bjj?
If your knees ever get banged up or sore from jiu jitsu then we got you covered.
In this post, we’ll take a quick look at some of our top recommended knee sleeves and knee braces for bjj training as well as other frequently asked questions on knee sleeves and knee injuries.
Best Jiu Jitsu Knee Braces – At a Glance
Jiu Jitsu Knee Braces – Comparison Chart
|High quliaty material and comfortable fit
|More expensive than others
|NEENCA Professional Knee Brace
|Affordable with decent fit
|May not be as durable as some other brands
|Shock Doctor Ultra Knit Knee Support, Knee Brace
|Excellent padding and great fit
|None* (more expensive than NEENCA)
|Anaconda Knee Brace
|Uses Velcro straps which can restrict
|CAMBIVO 2 Pack Knee Brace, Knee Compression Sleeve
|Comes in a pack of two
|Poor sizing and no padding
|Modvel Knee Braces for Knee Pain
|Good for general knee pain relief
|Poor sizing and no padding
|EzyFit Knee Brace Support
|Adjustable straps for a custom fit
|Winzone Knee Brace by ComfyMed
|Easy to put on and adjust
|Small and poor fit
|McDavid Knee Brace with Side Hinges
|Side hinges for added support
|Bulkier than sleeve-style braces
|POWERLIX Leg Sleeve
Best Knee Braces for Jiu Jitsu
|+High quality material
|+Good amount of padding
|+Offers the most support without being a “hard” knee brace
|+No movement restriction
|-On the expensive end
It just offers better fit, higher quality of material, and I’ve found that it stays in place better than other knee sleeves.
Some things that stood out to me on this knee sleeve were:
- there is more fabric above the knee then below the knee (this seems to help keep it from sliding down more)
- thick padding around the patella (but doesn’t limit movement)
- it doesm’t have much of a rubber lining on the top and bottom openings (unlike the Neenca knee brace) which could mean that it may slide down a bit
With a more premium price tag, it may not be the choice for most. However, I always prefer to buy a quality product once instead of replacing a cheaper one down the road.
Note: if you need extra support and stability you should check out the Bauferfield Genutrain S
#2. Neenca Knee Brace
|+Provides support without being restrictive
|-May slip or slide down
|-Stiching around patella padding may come undone over time
This is pick for best affordable knee sleeve. While the Bauerfeind knee sleeve is just better overall in terms of fit, comfort, and support, it does come at a higher price point.
The Neenca knee brace is one I’ve worn and used frequently in the past. It gets the job done at a cheaper price, but I found that the stitching may come undone especially around the gel insert.
Either way it’s still an excellent choice for a knee sleeve that offers some decent padding with little restriction at a very affordable price
#3. Shock Doctor Ultra Knit Knee Support
|+Comfortable, breathable material
|-Ideal amount of padding
The Shock Doctor Knee Sleeve is our runner up for best overall knee sleeve. It comes in at about half the price of the more premium Bauerfeind but truly hits all of our marks.
It has some solid gel inserts that offer more an enough padding, is comfortable to wear, and fits great. If you don’t want to save a little and still go with a quality option this is a great knee sleeve for any type of martial arts.
#4. Anaconda Knee Sleeve
|+Good amount of padding
|-Uses velcro straps
The Anaconda knee sleeve is another good option that has a decent amount of padding and fits well.
However, when compared to the Neenca knee sleeve or the Shock Doctor knee sleeve, I just prefered a knee sleeve without velcro straps. Again this may be my own personal preference, but I find velcro straps restrictive and a bit uncomfortable.
#5. Cambivo Knee Braces
|-Not the best fit
|-May not offer enough support
|-Does not include any gel inserts (minimal padding)
The Cambivo knee sleeves didn’t really hit our marks.
The Camibov knee sleeves like the POWERLIX and Modvel sleeves are just fabric and do not include any gel inserts, and I’ve found that they really didn’t offer much support.
Additionally, while these are more affordable, I just found them overall poor fitting and not the best option for jiu jitsu practitioners.
#6. Modvel Knee Braces
|+Made from a blend of Nylon and Latex
|-May not always stay in place
Another affordable knee sleeve. This two pack from Modvel are simply fabric sleeves so don’t expect any gel inserts or additional padding.
For people who train BJJ or wrestling and are constantly putting pressure on their knees, we’d recommend something with more padding like the knee sleeves from Bauerfeind, Shock Doctor, or Neenca.
#7. EzyFit Knee Brace
|+3 strap system
|+Doesn’t cover much area
|-Velcro straps may be too restrictive
The EZ fit knee sleeve is a knee sleeve that I wouldn’t recommend for BJJ. For me personally, I think a knee sleeve without velcro straps and that covers more area like the Neenca knee sleeve is best.
The EZ fit sleeve didn’t fit the best, and I couldn’t find a comfortable way attach the velcro straps to have them offer support while not being uncomfrotable or restrictive.
#8. Winzone Knee Brace
|+Velcro straps for extra support
|-Straps may have to pulled tight which can lead to discomfort
Another knee sleeve that relies on velcro straps is the Winzone Knee Stabilizer.
This knee sleeve may work for people with minor knee injuries, but I strongly wouldn’t recommend them for those training any type of martial art. It simply just doesn’t offer much protection, and I found that it doesn’t really stay put.
#9. McDavid Knee Brace with Side Hinges
|+Great stability and support
|-Not ideal for bjj or any close contact martial art
|-Have to keep velcor traps tight to keep it in place
|-Includes hard parts on outside of sleeve
|-May limit mobility
The McDavid Knee Brace is made for maximum support with velcro and side hignes. However, with this amount of support I found it to definitely be restrictive and probably not recommend for Brazilian jiu jitsu.
Due to the hard side hinges, it may be dangerous to roll in bjj with it. This knee brace would be good if you are coming off of a serious knee injury and want to do some light activity. Again, it probably isn’t ideal to wear while doing any time of martial art or close contact activity.
Also many organizations like the IBJJF do not allow you to wear any knee sleeve with hard plastic or metal parts – so this one would not be allowed in bjj competitions.
#10. POWERLIX Knee Compression Sleeve
|+Allows for great range of motion
|-Doesn’t include any padding or gel inserts
|-May have to size down
The POWERLIX Knee Compression Sleeve is simliar to the Cambivo and Modvel sleeves in that it doesn’t include any extra padding or gel inserts. It is simply fabric that can offer some compression but doesn’t offer any padding.
It may not be ideal for jiu jitsu if you are looking for some extra padding due to how often training is performed on your knees.
Finding the Best Knee Brace for Jiu Jitsu
When selecting a knee brace for Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu the key characteristics to consider are support, stability, comfort, and mobility. A good knee brace should provide medical-grade protection, especially for athletes dealing with knee sorness, returning from an injury, or looking to prevent one.
- Support & Stability: Athletes often favor braces that offer a snug fit and stabilizing features without impeding movement. Options with gel pads around the knee cap, such as the Bauerfeind GenuTrain, are widely recommended for their balance of protection and flexibility.
- Comfort & Material Quality: Materials should be durable and provide a comfortable experience during grueling training sessions. High-quality materials that wick away moisture while retaining a lightweight profile are preferable.
- Mobility: In BJJ, mobility is crucial. Seek knee braces that grant full range of motion like sleeve designs. These are less bulky than traditional braces and offer sufficient compression to secure the knee joint.
Here is a quick infographic on the different amount of support differen knee braces offer:
While a lot of your choose will come down to personal preference, I’ve found that I prefer knee support from a knee sleeve that:
- Provides padding for my knee when wrestling, passing, or pinning
- Doesn’t get in the way of training
For these reasones I prefer the knee sleve from Bauerfeind or Powerlix as opposed to one with brackets or hinges like that from McDavid.
What’s the Best Knee Brace for Different Injuries?
For mild to moderate sprains or strains, a compression sleeve like the Bauerfeind Knee Compression Sleeve may offer sufficient support without limiting mobility. These sleeves can provide stability and warmth, which helps with inflammation and pain.
In cases of minor meniscus tears or moderate ligament injuries, braces with more stabilization, such as the Anaconda Knee Brace, are advisable. They generally feature side stabilizers and a patella support to manage knee alignment while allowing a range of motion conducive to recovery during light training.
Those suffering from severe ligament injuries, such as an ACL tear, may benefit from advanced braces like the Bauferfield Genutrain S. Such braces tend to be designed with hinges to mimic the knee’s natural movement while providing robust support, limiting harmful lateral and rotational motion.
Lastly, for chronic conditions or post-surgery, an Unloader Knee Brace could be recommended, which is specifically designed to relieve pain by shifting the stress away from the affected portion of the knee.
|POWERLIX Knee Compression Sleeve/Bauerfeind Sports Knee Brace
|Compression, warmth, mild support
|NEENCA Professional Knee Brace
|Side stabilizers, patella support
|Severe Ligament Injuries
|Bauferfield Genutrain S
|Hinged design, strong support
|Unloader Knee Brace
|Pain relief, stress redistribution
What Are the Best Knee Sleeves for a Meniscus Tear
As always we recommend consulting with a healthcare professional for any serious injuries and before selecting the appropriate knee sleeve or knee brace. However, some good options for knee sleeves when dealing with a meniscus tear are:
- Bauerfeind Sports Knee Brace: It offers robust support without compromising mobility, which is essential for athletes who are eager to return to training.
- SHOCK DOCTOR Hinged Knee Brace: With its hinged design, this brace enhances stability, which is critical for those at risk of further injury.
- ATHLEDICT Hinged Knee Support Brace: This brace combines support with comfort, featuring adjustable straps for a customized fit.
- NEENCA Compression Sleeve: Renowned for its anatomical fit, the NEENCA sleeve provides both compression and improved blood circulation, which can expedite the healing process.
What’s the Difference Between a Knee Brace vs Knee Sleeve vs Knee Pads?
Knee braces, knee sleeves, and knee pads serve different purposes for Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu practitioners, these terms are sometimes used interchangeably but in general they can be broken down into the below:
Knee Braces: They are medical devices used for both injury prevention and recovery. Braces often incorporate metal or plastic supports to stabilize the knee joint. They restrict potentially harmful ranges of motion and provide targeted support to injured areas.
- Materials: Neoprene, Elastic, Rigid components
- Purpose: Injury rehabilitation, Support for unstable knees
- Use Case: Post-injury recovery, managing conditions like arthritis
Knee Sleeves: These are designed to compress and support the knee joint, enhancing blood flow which can help reduce pain and swelling during and after training. Unlike braces, sleeves don’t have rigid parts.
- Materials: Neoprene, Nylon
- Purpose: Compression, Mild support, Warmth retention
- Use Case: Injury prevention, General knee support for performance
Knee Pads: They primarily provide cushioning and protect the knee from impacts and abrasions on the mats. Pads are not designed to support the joint structurally.
- Materials: Foam padding, Gel inserts, Neoprene
- Purpose: Impact protection, Abrasion resistance
- Use Case: Protecting against mat burns, Absorbing shock from takedowns
Does Wearing a Knee Brace Prevent Injury?
Knee braces are designed to prevent injury, but in terms of scientific research there hasn’t yet been a proven conlucsion
From the research available we find that knee braces help reduce the of frequency and severity of MCL injuries following valgus knee stresses. (SCOTT A. PALUSKA, M.D et al)
So knee braces are best for post injury rehab or to provide support after a minor injury
|Stabilization, support during activity
|Assists healing, prevents further damage
|Limits harmful movement, supports healing
Injury Specificity: Different types of knee braces target various aspects of knee health. Prophylactic braces are meant to prevent injuries, while functional and rehabilitative braces are used post-injury or surgery to aid in healing.
Braces may contain features like protective gel pads or metal supports, depending on the intended use. The concept is that by safeguarding the knee from unnatural movements, the risk of injury can be mitigated. However, individuals should consult healthcare professionals to determine appropriate use as braces are not a solution for all problems and incorrect usage may lead to other issues.
It’s crucial to emphasize that while braces aid in prevention, they are not a guarantee against injury. Proper technique, warm-up, and strength training are also vital components of injury prevention in BJJ.
How Else Can You Protect Your Knees in BJJ
In addition to using knee braces, there are several methods one can employ to protect their knees during BJJ training.
Proper Technique: As awlays fundamental to knee safety is the appropriate execution of techniques. Practitioners should prioritize learning the correct form from qualified instructors to minimize stress on the knees.
Strength Training: Incorporating strength exercises can reinforce knee stability. Key exercises include:
- Leg Presses
Flexibility: A consistent stretching routine enhances joint mobility and can reduce the risk of knee injuries. It is particularly beneficial to focus on hamstrings, quadriceps, and calf muscles.
Adequate Warm-Up: A thorough warm-up increases blood flow to the muscles and prepares the joints for physical activity, which can help prevent knee injuries.
Rest and Recovery: Listening to one’s body and allowing time for recovery after intense training sessions is essential. Adequate rest helps prevent overuse injuries.
Nutrition: A diet rich in anti-inflammatory foods and sufficient in vitamins and minerals supports joint health.
Tape or Wraps: Some athletes may choose to use athletic tape or wraps to provide extra support to the knee joint during training.
Avoiding Overtraining: Respecting one’s limits and avoiding excessive repetitive movements can help in reducing the wear and tear on the knees.
Common Injuries in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu
Despite being a non-striking sport, jiu jitsu practitioners are still susceptible to various injuries.
We see from the above chart that knee injuries make up 22.7% of all injuries in BJJ making it the most common injury in jiu jitsu.
Joint Injuries: BJJ athletes frequently experience joint-related injuries. Due to the nature of the sport, which involves manipulating an opponent’s body, practitioners often sustain trauma to the knees and elbows. These injuries can range from ligament sprains to more severe cases such as meniscal tears.
- Fingers and Toes: Small joint injuries are also common, including hyperextensions and dislocations, particularly in the fingers and toes.
- Neck Injuries: Neck strains due to chokes and holds are common. While less frequent than knee injuries, their potential severity demands attention and caution.
Muscle Strains: Dynamic movements and powerful grips can lead to muscle strains. Overstretching or tearing of muscles can happen during intense training or competition.
Skin Infections: Not all injuries are related to physical trauma. Participants should also be aware of skin infections, like ringworm, which spread through close contact and shared mats.
Prevention and Adequate Gear: Utilizing proper gear such as protective knee braces or sleeves can mitigate the risk of knee-related injuries. These supports provide added stability and protection, which are essential for a sport that places significant strain on the knees. It’s important for athletes to choose gear that offers sufficient support without hindering movement.
Recognizing the common injuries in BJJ allows practitioners to train smarter and prioritize injury prevention.
A Knee Brace May Not Be a Permanent Solution
While knee braces provide vital support and protection for Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) practitioners, they are not a cure-all. The use of a knee brace should be seen as a component in a broader approach to knee health.
- Temporary Support: A knee brace serves to stabilize and support the knee during healing and activity. However, it is not a substitute for building the muscular strength and flexibility needed for long-term knee health.
- Healing Process: In conjunction with wearing a knee brace, individuals should adhere to a recovery protocol that might include:
- Elevation (RICE)
- Medical Consultation: It’s important for athletes to consult with healthcare professionals to determine the underlying issues of knee pain. Knee braces provide symptomatic relief but do not address root causes such as muscle imbalances or improper technique.
- Proper Training: Engaging in proper technique and training is paramount. Braces should not be relied upon to compensate for inadequate training or to push through an injury without adequate recovery.
Can You Wear a Knee Sleeve or Knee Brace for Training or Sparring in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu?
Yes, you can wear a knee sleeve or knee brace during bjj training or sparring. However, a knee sleeve is strongly recommended as a knee brace with hard and rigid parts may not only be unconformtable for you but dangerous for your training partners.
In conclusion, wearing a knee sleeve or brace during BJJ is generally acceptable as long as it doesn’t compromise safety or mobility.
Can You Compete While Wearing a Knee Sleeve
Yes, in most bjj competitions you can wear a knee sleeve. However, it is always best to check with the specific organizations rules.
Does the IBJJF Allow You to Compete While Wearing a Knee Sleeve?
The International Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation (IBJJF) has specific guidelines for apparel and gear during competitions. Yes, they permit the use of knee sleeves, provided they meet certain criteria:
- The knee sleeve must be made of a cloth-like material.
- It should not have any hard parts, including but not limited to plastic or metal.
- The knee sleeve must be black, white, or the same color as the rank (belt) of the athlete.
How Do You Clean a Knee Sleeve
Cleaning a knee sleeve properly can extend its life and maintain its support and comfort. Below is a step-by-step guide:
- Remove any loose dirt by gently brushing the knee sleeve.
- Fill a basin with warm water.
- Mix Cleaning Solution:
- Add a small amount of mild detergent to the water.
- For extra deodorization, one could add a small amount of vinegar.
- Hand Washing:
- Submerge the knee sleeve in the mixture.
- Soak for up to 30 minutes to loosen dirt and odors.
- Gently scrub the sleeve with your hands or a soft brush.
- After washing, rinse the sleeve thoroughly with clean water to remove soap residue.
- Wring out excess water carefully, without twisting the fabric harshly.
- Lay flat or hang the sleeve to air dry for at least 24 hours away from direct heat or sunlight.
Note: It is advisable to avoid machine washing and drying as it may damage the material or alter the sleeve’s shape. Always consult the manufacturer’s care instructions specific to the knee sleeve brand for the best results.
What Other Protective Equipment Should You Consider for BJJ
When training in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ), besides knee braces, practitioners should consider additional protective gear to minimize injury risks and improve safety during rigorous training sessions and sparring.
- Mouthguards: Essential for protecting teeth and reducing the risk of concussion. They come in various forms from boil-and-bite models to custom-fitted ones.
- Ear Guards: To prevent cauliflower ear, a common condition among grapplers, well-ventilated ear guards with a secure fit are recommended.
- Rash Guards: These protect against mat burn, skin infections, and also provide muscle compression. They can come with long or short sleeves.
- Spats/Leggings: Worn under shorts or Gi pants, they provide the same benefits as rash guards for the lower body and keep muscles warm.
Here’s a simple overview table:
|Features to Look For
|Protects teeth; reduces concussion risk
|Prevents cauliflower ear
|Secure fit; good ventilation
|Prevents skin infections; provides compression
|Material quality; fit; sleeve length
|Muscle warmth and compression
|Durable material; comfortable fit
|Does not restrict vision; lightweight
Injuries can put a significant damper on one’s training progress, so investing in these protective items is a wise decision for any BJJ practitioner.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Is Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Hard on Your Knees?
Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ) is a grappling-based martial art that emphasizes ground fighting and submissions The nature of the sport often requires practitioners to put significant strain on their joints, especially the knees. Due to repetitive movements and the physical demands of sparring, the prevalence of knee injuries is notable among BJJ athletes.
When practicing BJJ, athletes frequently perform takedowns, sweeps, pins, and submissions that involve twisting and bending the knees. This can lead to various types of injuries such as:
Common Knee Injuries in BJJ:
- Ligament Strains and Tears: The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), posterior cruciate ligament (PCL), medial collateral ligament (MCL), and lateral collateral ligament (LCL) are at risk during high-impact motions.
- Meniscus Tears: The meniscus can be damaged during twisting movements when the foot is planted and the knee is bent.
- Patellar Issues: The kneecap or surrounding tendons may suffer from excessive stress.
What features should I look for in a high-quality BJJ knee brace?
High-quality BJJ knee braces typically feature durable material, adequate compression, and anatomical design. Comfort and support are crucial, as well as braces with patellar stabilization for those with specific knee cap issues.
How can a knee brace assist in injury recovery for Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu practitioners?
A knee brace can aid in recovery by providing compression to reduce swelling, support to injured ligaments, and warmth that promotes blood flow. This helps practitioners return to training with added joint stability.
What are the differences between knee braces and knee pads for BJJ?
Knee braces provide structural support to the knee joint, often with hinges and straps, while knee pads primarily offer cushioning protection against impacts to the knee cap and surrounding area. Braces are more focused on injury prevention and recovery, whereas pads are for impact protection.
Can wearing a knee brace improve knee stability during BJJ training?
Wearing a knee brace can indeed improve knee stability during BJJ training, as it provides extra support to the knee joint, may prevent hyperextension, and helps maintain proper alignment during dynamic movements.
What are the regulations regarding knee brace usage in BJJ competitions?
Regulations on knee brace usage in BJJ competitions vary by organization. Generally, braces must be free of metal or hard plastic that can harm an opponent. It’s important to check with specific competition rules for permitted gear.
Can You Wear Knee Pads in BJJ?
Yes, you can wear knee pads in BJJ. Buying protective gear and equipment continues beyond gis or rashguards. Knee pads offer extra protection for the kneecaps, which is essential for BJJ practitioners.
How Tight Should a Knee Brace Be?
Your knee braces should be tight, but not enough that it severely limits your movement or proper circulation. As always you should considered your comfort and breathability. If it restricts your movenet or cuts off circulation it is too tight.
How Long Do Knee Braces Last?
How your knee braces last depend on how and where you use them and how you care for them. It usually lasts long (for years), given that the knee braces are made from high-quality materials, such as fabric, velcros, and hinges.
My Neenca knee sleeve which I’ve had for over 3 years is still in decent condition. However, there is some fraying of seams and then inner gel patella padding frequently comes out of place.
How Do I Care for Knee Brace
After using it in your training, cleaning and washing your braces is recommended. Make sure to check if your knee braces are machine washable. If not, clean your knee braces in cold water and light soap, let them soak and move them from time to time before rinsing and hanging to air dry.
Should I Wear Knee Pads All the Time for BJJ?
No, it is not necessary to wear knee pads in BJJ. This decision is purely on your preference. But if a knee pad or sleeve adds more comfort to your BJJ training, then yes, feel free to wear them during all your training.
Can You Wear a Knee Brace in a BJJ Competition?
Yes, you can wear a knee brace in competitions. Most competitions allow you to wear some knee sleeves during matches. However, most do not allow you to wear a knee brace that has rigid or hard parts.
The IBJJF allows knee sleves as long as the knee sleeve must be made of a cloth-like material, doesn’t have any hard parts, and it must be black, white, or the same color as the belt rank of the competitor.